Goose Hunting I Late Season Tips and Tactics
When the cold winds blow and the snow is on, there is really nothing like being tucked away in the comfort of a warm box blind or seated high in the air in your favorite tree stand with your Bear bow in hand. Chasing white-tailed deer during the late season is often a solitary sport. That is something most hunters enjoy and appreciate about that style of hunting. Whether it’s chasing whitetails or other large game, pursuing these species provides the hunter with a chance to pit their wits against the great outdoors. Just you, your gear and the wild! There is truly something magical about that!
Hunting is a very versatile activity. It is what most has come to love and appreciate about our sport. If you like the opportunity to be alone and connect with the great outdoors there are plenty of opportunities to do so, however, if you enjoy the more social side of hunting and yet are still interested in testing your grit and hunting prowess there are still plenty of species that you can pursue that will do just that.
The sport of goose hunting is rooted in American history and has a rich tradition and legacy that has continued on to present day. Goose hunting offers an excellent opportunity to spend time afield with family and friends, and certainly offers a new set of challenges to help keep your instincts and reflexes fine-tuned. Late season goose hunting can be a fun packed and rewarding adventure, with large flocks of migrating Canada geese covering the lower 48 states. However, with much of the waterfowl season behind them, the birds that remain have truly heard it all and seen it all, which can make goose hunting during the late season extremely tough. That being said, with a little skill and know-how you can level the playing field and make some memories goose hunting during the late season.
Late Season Goose Decoy Strategies:
There many components that make for a successful late season goose hunt. Without a doubt, putting your Nikon’s to work and spending your time scouting is 90% of the game when it comes to late season goose hunting. However, once you have the geese located and have gained access to the property it is time for the real work to begin.
Late season goose hunting often affords the hunter little margin for error. This attributed to one simple fact, and that is you are often hunting educated birds. Late season geese have had everything thrown at them by the time the late season rolls around and as a result will not be likely to set their wings and commit to the decoys unless everything is absolutely perfect.
Mimic What you See
Without a doubt, it always helps to observe the behavior of the geese in the field you plan to hunt before you hunt it. We have probably all tried to set up in a new spot without observing it beforehand and very seldom does that approach work exactly how you thought it would. It always pays to see how the geese are behaving in the area you plan to hunt, as their behavior will tell you exactly how you should set the goose decoys the following day. A few things to pay close attention to are whether the geese are bunched in large groups, or are they broken into family groups? Are there any geese sitting or sleeping in the field or are they all feeding with a few “lookers” scattered throughout? Where exactly in the field are the birds, and how do they enter and exit the field? Are they calm and collected, or spooky? The answers to all of these questions will help you to begin to set up your decoy spread to look as natural as it can, which is what late season goose hunting success is all about.
Visibility is Key
Visibility is really important when it comes to late season goose hunting in two ways. First, you want to make sure that your goose decoys are set in the most realistic manner possible. Second, you need to make sure they are visible. Hopefully, in most cases, you are hunting a field where the geese have been coming to feed or loaf. That being said, sometimes it is hard to gain permission to be on the X, so the next best thing is to get in front of the birds and attempt to “run traffic” or in other words pull geese to you as they fly overhead. In order to be successful in this approach, you need to make sure that they geese see your spread first, as it is often critical to getting that first group of geese to commit to ensuring the groups that follow do as well. Making sure that you are using a high quality, realistic decoy is step number one. The second step is to attempt to locate the highest point in the field. Often a hill or terrace is a great place to start and gives your decoy the advantage of being visible from a greater distance than if they were down over a hill.
One final point as it relates to visibility, it is very important that your goose decoys be visible and it is equally as important you as a hunter are not. During the early part of the goose season, hunters can get away with spending a little less time camouflaging their blinds. That all goes out the window during the late season. Without a doubt, it is absolutely critical that you ensure that you are putting your Realtree Max 5 to good use and are as well-hidden as possible. Late season geese are wary beyond compare and the slightest shine off a blind or the slightest movement can send the flock heading for the hills, so budget for the extra time strictly devoted to camouflaging your set up.
Calling Late Season Geese
Calling late season geese can sometimes be tricky. Having heard it all and seen it all, you can quickly find yourself in the Goldie Locks zone, where you can either be too aggressive, too passive and sometimes just right. One of the best tips for calling late season geese is to simply let the geese dictate what they want to hear. This can be a very successful technique if you are disciplined enough to use it. What can separate a good goose caller from a great goose caller is having the ability to read the reaction of the birds. Many times, we tend to stick with the same old calling cadence and series that we are used to, rather than responding to what the birds are doing. This can truly be a hindrance to success.
Let the geese tell you what they want to hear, by simply listening to geese as they are coming your way. If the geese are loud and vocal, then grab your Shock Caller and attempt to be loud and vocal. If the geese are being mostly silent, then do your best to match them. If you can marry this calling technique with realistic decoy spread and a high level of concealment you have all the ingredients you need for a successful late season goose hunt!